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Viral Mechanobiology

Principal Investigator: T Franz

Infectious diseases such as HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria remain serious challenges in South Africa and Africa. Research towards effective strategies for the prevention and treatment has been involving virology, pharmacology, biochemistry and public health.

Mechanobiology of viral infections has however received very little attention in the efforts to control infectious diseases. For example, it has been found that the mechanical properties of HIV change through its life cycle, having larger stiffness during viral budding but lower stiffness during entry into cells, and that this regulation may be important for efficient infectivity. For malaria, the membrane stiffness of infected red blood cells increases progressively as the parasite matures. This leads to a non-physiological displacement of the infected RBC to the wall of a blood vessel - a phenomenon that is postulated to contribute to pathophysiological outcome of the disease relating to cytoadherence to the endothelium.

Mechanics of HIV

E Kruse, P Selhorst, T Abdalrahman, W Roos, A Ziegler, BT Sewell, T Franz

This first research project aims at exploring the mechanics and morphology of HIV and other viruses through experimental and numerical methods including electron and atomic force microscopy, mathematical modelling, and computational mechanics. This research builds capacity in these different areas and is expected to identify the most promising targets for subsequent mechanobiological studies in HIV infection.

Source: AIDSinfo